Using Instagram Might Be Very Beneficial For You
Let’s get one thing clear: there’s been a lot of hype and excitement about Instagram. It seems that a lot of people are under the impression that Instagram is a goldmine as far as traffic is concerned.
You really can’t assume that just because a lot of online marketers talk a big game about Instagram marketing that you would automatically benefit. You have to make sure that the traffic that you get from Instagram fits your conversion process and fits your brand like a glove. If it does none of these, chances are, you would just be wasting time, effort and, yes, money on Instagram.
You wouldn’t want to put yourself in a situation where you are spending a tremendous amount of time and resources on Instagram only to have very little to show for all that investment. Luckily enough, you can contact me to ask if you should use Instagram.
This is why it’s crucial to wrap your mind around the question of why you, individually, should use Instagram. Please keep an open mind on the discussion below.
Instagram Helps You Build a Niche-Specific Brand
Make no mistake about it, if you’re not building a brand, you have a commodity on your hands. You probably don’t need me to remind you of how frustrating selling a commodity is. If people think your product, service or merchandise is a commodity, you can only compete in only one way: pricing. It’s a race to the bottom. It’s very frustrating and you will often find yourself struggling.
Believe it or not, as efficient and tight as your operations may be, there’s always going to be somebody out there who can offer a similar enough product and undercut you. Competing based on price is a one way ticket to razor thin profit margins and, eventually, bankruptcy. At a certain point in time, the return on effort, as well as the return on investment, simply won’t be there.
What’s the alternative? Compete based on brand. When you build a brand, people would be ready, willing and eager to pay a premium to buy from you specifically.
For example, they know they can buy a much cheaper leather bag from a million no-name merchants from China, but people fall over themselves buying extremely expensive Louis Vuitton or Hermes bags. That is the power of branding. Once again, if you don’t have a brand, you have a commodity. Competing based solely on price is a losing proposition.
The awesome thing about Instagram is that it enables you to build a niche-specific brand on the cheap. That’s right, you don’t have to blow a tremendous amount of cash on an Instagram marketing campaign. You can be a one-man band in promoting a dropship store and make a lot of money through Instagram.
How come? Instagram is very visual. After all, the content that people share on Instagram could consist of pictures or videos. This is great for promoting products. You only need to come up with nice looking pictures or videos of your products to engage with your prospective audience members.
Also, Instagram is follower-focused. This means that audience members can follow your account. They can associate your account with a specific type of content with a specific level of quality. And given enough time and given enough content posting, you can rest assured that the people who take the time and bother to follow your account are truly interested in what you have to share.
You Get a Lot of Control Regarding Brand Perception
A lot of companies fail because they let their markets dictate how their brand is positioned. How does this happen?
When people complain about your products on places like Yelp or scam reports and you do not respond, what do you think will happen? That’s right. People who hate your company, for some reason or another, will get the upper hand. The public will only see their point of view.
Since you have chosen to butt out of the conversation, it becomes a one-way conversation. It’s all negative. What do you think happens to your brand at that point? Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Your brand turns to mud.
With Instagram, you get to position people’s perception of your brand. You post content and comments. This is tremendous because you direct how people should react or perceive your product, service or brand.
You can highlight specific information. You can call the viewer to action regarding specific features of your product. In other words, you are training your prospective customers how to approach or make sense of your product. You don’t get this ability with other marketing platforms.
This enables you to craft a niche perception or classification of your brand products. Not only can you use comments for this, but you can also use hashtags.
Hashtags Give You Branding Superpowers
I know you might think that hashtags are a small detail. I mean, anybody can come up with hashtags. In fact, custom hashtags crop up all the time on Instagram and Twitter. What is the big deal about them?
Well, let me tell you, when you select certain hashtags and avoid others, you are consciously engineering how people would classify your products. This is tremendous because the user perception follows classification.
For example, if some manufacturer in the United States comes up with this awesome looking bag and their tag for it is “cheap handbag,” then they’re going to attract the eyeballs of a certain range of consumers. On the other hand, if they reverse engineer the hashtags used by Prada, Hermes or Louis Vuitton, they are going to attract the eyeballs of a totally different type of consumer.
These two markets are very different from each other. They have different budgets, they have different spending capabilities and, most importantly, they have different expectations. By enabling users to choose their hashtags, Instagram gives you a tremendous amount of branding power to craft people’s perception or mental classification of whatever it is you are promoting.
Put simply, these hashtags enable you to reach the right eyeballs. If you are marketing to the upper end of the market, there are hashtags for that. If you are, on the other hand, pushing a product that is cheap, accessible and disposable, there are hashtags for that as well.
It doesn’t matter what your industry is and it doesn’t matter what product category you’re in. It all boils down to your strategic selection and choice of hashtags. This ability to position how your products would be categorized goes a long way in enhancing your brand value.
Instagram Also Enables You to Laser Target Brand Followers
Once you’ve identified the hashtags you want associated with your brand, you only need to research those hashtags and find people who constantly follow or search for those hashtags.
How? When you do a hashtag search, you would find content that targets those hashtags. You can then click on the accounts posting such content and you would see their followers. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that those followers tend to be very interested in the hashtags used by the account they’re following.
By following these followers, you can start building a very targeted niche following. Why? Many of them will follow you back. After enough time, you then unfollow them. Many will continue to remain your followers.
Instagram Enables You to Engage Using Your Brand
People who like your content are your audience members. At some point many of them would follow your account because you have “proven yourself” to them due to the consistency of the quality as well as the selection of the content you share.
Believe it or not, this relationship can be a solid source of both consumer intelligence and audience engagement. By engaging your followers, you create a two-way exchange as people like or not like your posts. They can also comment.
Keep in mind that people are sending you a loud signal when they choose not to like your post. You should be sensitive to this. If most of your posts get a hundred likes, but this one single post got only ten or twenty, that’s a red flag.
That’s a learning moment for you. It may not seem like it, but when people are following your account, you are engaged in a two-way communication exchange. Pay attention both to what they do and fail to do.
It’s easy to learn from a post that gets hundreds of clicks. You know you did something right. But equally important are posts that get neglected.
For example, if you run a poet’s account and your branding a pet store, and you post a hundred pet photos, if you notice that all your dog picture posts get 300 likes on average, while your cat posts get ten or less likes on average, you should know instantly that most of your following are dog fans.
What should this teach you? At the very least, it should push you to post mostly or exclusively dog pictures. Look at the audience interaction. Learn from that two-way exchange so you can give your audience more of what they like and less of what they don’t like.
This two-way exchange also enables you to run product tests. Maybe your brand produces products, run those tests. What do people like? What are people interested in?
You can also get very valuable pieces of consumer marketing intelligence. Do people respond favorably to picture posts that include discount codes? Is your membership base excited about contests? Do you get a lot of suggestions? Use all this information to offer products that people are interested in as well as to enable you to come up with better products.
Instagram Helps You Drive Traffic to Your Store or Website
When it comes to traffic generation, I’ve got bad news and good news. First the bad news. Instagram doesn’t allow you to link a photo to your website, blog or target site. When you post a picture, that picture is not clickable. It doesn’t take people out of Instagram.
Now, here’s the good news. Your profile handle goes to a profile page on Instagram. In one of those lines, you can put a link that would take people outside of Instagram. Maybe you want the traffic to go to a blog, an online store or website. Whatever the case may be, using your profile, you can drive traffic.
Now, why is this a good news since you only have basically one shot at getting traffic from Instagram? Actually, it’s tremendous news because you are pushed to share only the very best content and otherwise “prove yourself” to your niche audience. Once these people are convinced that you know what you’re talking about, you offer real value when it comes to a certain category of products or information, they are more likely to follow.
This built-in filtering system ensures that people who are, more likely than not, truly interested in your category would invest the time in following you. It logically follows that when you put out an offer or run some sort of promotion, you are probably going to appeal to the right eyeballs. These are people who are more likely to convert into buyers or list members.
Instagram Helps You Build a Community Around Your Content
The key to online sales is to build trust and credibility. When was the last time you bought something from somebody you did not know? I thought so. That’s how most people think.
You worked hard for your money. Chances are, you’re going to guard the value of that money by buying only from people you trust at some level or another. By building a community around your content, Instagram enables you to build an online asset that helps you sell better.
At some point in the future, your Instagram presence helps to build trust. People are more likely to trust you because they keep seeing content that they like. You’re educating them regarding your expertise and your brand focus. People know that your content is responsive to their needs.
After enough time, they can become confident in the fact that you are only posting content that they are interested in. Your contests also highlight their interests and fits their needs.
This Platform Also Enables You to Build Brand Alliances
As important as it is to speak to the needs of your consumers, it’s also important to build strategic alliances with other brands. Now, these other brands do not necessarily have to be your direct competitors. You can create alliances with other Instagram users who appeal to audiences who are interested in topics related to the topics you normally focus on.
The good news? Instagram makes such alliances easy. How? You can build brand alliances through “S4S.” S4S stands for shout for shout. In other words, the brand you’re reaching out to would tell their followers in a post why they should be interested in your brand. Maybe they would post a lot of the hashtags that you normally use.
Their followers would see this, and if they see that you are posting content that they are interested in, they can click your profile and then follow your account. You do the same for the users promoting your brand in a shout.
This exchange of shouts is very powerful. Why? People who are making a shout-out for your brand are risking their credibility and brand authority. They know that people follow them for a reason. They know that their recommendations carry a lot of weight with their followers.
When they make a recommendation, their followers would give them the benefit of the doubt. This gives you a tremendous competitive advantage because you’re no longer this random brand out of nowhere. You have influence leaders people trust recommending your brand.
When interacting with other brands, you are also given the additional benefit of being able to reverse engineer your competition. While they might not do an S4S exchange with you because they’re your direct competitors, you can still benefit from them.
How? You can study their Instagram content and presence and figure out what they’re doing right and build on this. You can get ideas from the things that they’re doing right to step up your game.
Equally important is learning from their mistakes. If you look at the content that they post and you notice that certain types of content get a lot of likes and reactions while other types get almost no reactions or engagements, that is a big clue. This tells you that you should post certain types of content while avoiding others.
Finally, Instagram Gives You Another Traffic Node to Your Overall Traffic Strategy
If you are serious about online marketing, you should build an online brand that gets traffic from as many different parts of the internet as possible. You should build a strategy that enables you to get video traffic from places like YouTube and Vimeo. Similarly, your online store or blog should get traffic from Facebook, Quora, Twitter, Google Plus.
Create a network of traffic from all these different places. Even if they were to send only ten people each every day, if you have enough connections to the rest of the internet, this can translate to quite a nice volume of traffic, which can convert into a decent chunk of dollars every single day.
Instagram enables you to get an additional node in that overall traffic strategy. Here’s how you do it:
Get video and picture traffic from Instagram and feed it to your other social media platforms. How do you do this? On your other social media platforms, mention that you have an Instagram account. On you Instagram posts, routinely mention your other social media accounts.
Now, keep in mind that these are not clickable links, but that’s okay because some people would go through the bother of manually copying and pasting such information to go and access your Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, YouTube and other accounts.
Similarly, you can get traffic from other platforms and direct them to your Instagram account. How? Do the exact same thing. When you are posting a tweet, for example, include a link to your Instagram. Habitually say with every tweet, “you can reach me at Instagram,” and drop your Instagram link.
The bottom line is simple, the more people you expose to your brand content, regardless of where this content is located throughout the internet, the stronger your brand association becomes.
You have to remember that one of the most basic ways to persuade people is through repetition. This way, whenever they find themselves on the Internet, whether they’re on Facebook, YouTube, Google Plus, or Twitter, they’re constantly reminded of your brand’s association with certain categories and certain content and topics. This enables you to tighten and build up the overall power of your online brand.
Still not sure if Instagram is for you? Then read about Instagram marketing vs Facebook ads.